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Soccer fans in Nova Scotia pushing for Shaffelburg and Canada

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There will be a lot of soccer fans in Nova Scotia staying up late and glued to the television Friday night as Canada takes on Venezuela in Copa America quarterfinal action.

Fans in the Maritimes have been drawn into the tournament by Port Williams, N.S., native Jacob Shaffelburg, who is playing a lot of key minutes up front on attack for the men’s national team.

Shaffelburg has been making the most of his opportunity at the international tournament to show off his skills and soccer fans in his home region are filled with pride watching him make his mark internationally.

"It adds another layer of excitement, seeing someone that we know, someone who is from here, someone from the community to rally around," said Matt Holton, director of soccer development Soccer Nova Scotia. "It adds another level of excitement for me personally and also for the kids watching."

This is the Canadian men's soccer team's first appearance in the Copa America tournament and Canada snuck through the round-robin and into the knockout stage with one loss, one win and a tie.

Canada has only scored one goal all tournament, which Shaffelburg helped set up with a cross to his teammate Jonathan David, who has Canada’s lone goal so far this tournament in a 1-0 win over Peru.

Shaffelburg, who plays professional soccer with Nashville in the MLS, has provided a lot of speed and offensive opportunities for Canada when he's been on the field.

"He's just such a positive role model for players from here,” said Holton. “To see that they can make it to that level and compete against the 'Messi's' of the world is amazing for sport.”

Holton coached Shaffelburg with the U-14 provincial team and said outside of his raw soccer skills and blistering speed, it's the 24-year-old’s desire to win and his love of the game that sets him apart.

"He was a great kid and he wanted to compete, but he was never the biggest, but physically he wasn’t intimidated, he would just work, work, work," said Holton.

Canada plays Venezuela on Friday at 10 p.m. AT in Dallas, Texas and the game can be watched on TSN.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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